TD Fri. – TD Town Hall – send in your Q’s!

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Hey TD!

This Friday is our final Friday meeting of the 2018 – 2019 year!  As is customary, we will finish the year with a town hall Q & A discussion.  Each year, we do it a little differently and this year is no different.  This year, we’d like you to submit questions and topics you’d like for us to discuss.  We will still have an open Q&A time, but questions submitted prior to Friday will get first priority.

You can ask any question or submit any topic for discussion that you’d like.  Our hope is that in doing it this way, there will be a nice balance between answers given on the spot and answers that have been given a bit more thought.  Both are useful.  If you have a particular counselor or intern that you’d like to address your topic or question, just say so.

Submit your questions and topics HERE

See you Friday!

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How Could All the Animals Fit on the Ark?

Ark Animal Care

Hey TD!

As Stella and I were discussing Noah’s Ark this week, I found myself not only wondering how Noah was able to get all the animals on the ark, but what animals he really got on the ark, and, to be honest, … was this really possible … at least as I understood it?

Lo and behold, I received this article in my inbox this morning from Answers in Genesis and thought that some of you would be interested in reading it.

Feel free to discuss it with one another or with a leader, for good discussion helps sharpen and refine our thoughts and understanding. – Arthur

How Could All the Animals Fit on the Ark?

by Michael Belknap and Tim Chaffey on April 2, 2019

One of the most important issues relating to the Bible’s flood account is the topic of animals on the ark. The estimated numbers, sizes, and types of ark animals impact nearly every aspect of the vessel’s interior operations, including time and labor expenditures, food and water needs, space and waste management, and enclosure design.1

The subject of fitting the required animals on the ark is a significant point of contention between biblical creationists and skeptics. However, properly addressing these concerns is more complicated than a mere compilation of data about different animal species. First, we must answer some fundamental questions.

How Large Was the Ark?

ACCORDING TO GENESIS 6:15, THE ARK WAS 300 CUBITS LONG, 50 CUBITS WIDE, AND 30 CUBITS HIGH—THE PROPORTIONS OF A GENUINE SHIPPING VESSEL.

According to Genesis 6:15, the ark was 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide, and 30 cubits high—the proportions of a genuine shipping vessel. A cubit is typically considered to be the length from a man’s furthest fingertip to his elbow. While various cubit lengths have been used throughout history, the Ark Encounter calculated the size of the ark based on a 20.4-inch (52 cm) cubit. The result is a vessel 510 feet (155 m) long, 85 feet (26 m) wide, and 51 feet (16 m) high. Accounting for a 15% reduction in volume due to the curvature of the hull, an ark this size could contain the equivalent of 450 semi-trailers of cargo or about 1.88 million cubic feet (53,200 m3)—a truly massive ship.

Which Animals Were Required on the Ark?

The Bible informs us that the ark housed representatives of every land-dependent, air-breathing animal—ones that could not otherwise survive the flood (Genesis 7:21–23). Conversely, Noah did not care for marine animals, and he probably did not need to bring insects, with the possible exception of delicate insects like butterflies and moths—since most insects could survive outside the ark. Also, insects take in oxygen through spiracles in their skin, and the Bible specifies that those creatures targeted outside of the ark were those “on the dry land in whose nostrils was the breath of life.”

How Many Species Are in the World Today?

Skeptics often assert that there are millions of species in the world— far more than the number that could fit on the ark. However, according to estimates published in 2014, there are fewer than 1.8 million documented species of organisms in the world. Consider also that over 98 percent of those species are fish, invertebrates, and non-animals (like plants and bacteria). This means that there are fewer than 34,000 species of known, land-dependent vertebrates in the world today.2

Species or Kinds?

Though wild animals today are often considered according to their species, the Bible deals with animals according to their min, a Hebrew word usually translated as “kind.” We can infer from Scripture that God created plants and animals to reproduce after their kinds (Genesis 1:11–25), and it is clear from various texts that a kind is often a broader category than the current concept of a species. This means that a kind may contain many different species. Since Noah was only sent select representatives from relevant kinds, all land-dwelling vertebrate species not present on the ark were wiped out. Therefore, if we see an ark kind represented today by different species (e.g., horses, zebras, and donkeys of the equid kind) those species have developed since the time of the flood. Therefore, species are simply varying expressions of a particular kind.

What Is an Animal Kind?

There are numerous approaches to defining a kind, but one of the simplest is a distinctly created type of organism and all descendants. Kinds are often referred to as baramins (from the Hebrew words for “created” and “kind”), and the study of created kinds is called baraminology.

What Are the Criteria for Identifying Kinds?

In 2011, Ark Encounter researchers began in-depth animal studies with the goal of identifying the maximum number of ark kinds.3 The researchers applied three primary criteria in estimating the ark kinds: hybridization, cognitum, and statistical baraminology.4

Hybrid data is the favored method in identifying kinds. Researchers believe that only closely related animals can successfully produce offspring, and this is consistent with the Bible’s emphasis on the relationship between reproduction and created kinds. Since only animals in the same kind are related, hybrids positively identify which animals are part of the same kind. The usefulness of hybrid data is limited, however, in that not all potential crosses have been tested or reliably documented, and some organisms have gone extinct. Hybridization is also strictly an inclusive criterion, as not even all related animals can produce offspring together (i.e., they have lost the ability to reproduce with certain others of their kind).

The cognitum approach estimates animal kinds using the human senses of perception. This method assumes that animal kinds have maintained their core distinctiveness even as they have diversified over time. Presently, extinct animals are most often classified using this approach. For example, woolly mammoths are extinct, and no hybrid data are connecting them with elephants. However, their extreme similarity to elephants has resulted in their assignment to the elephant kind.

In statistical analyses, continuities and discontinuities of animals are identified by comparing physical traits using statistical tests called baraminic distance correlation (BDC). Like the cognitum approach, this method assumes that the physical similarities and dissimilarities identified in the tests are reliable indicators of relatedness. It also assumes that the traits selected for comparison are baraminologically significant.

What Are Some Safeguards Against Underestimating the Number of Ark Animals?

The Ark Encounter researchers put several safeguards in place to avoid underestimating the number of animals on the ark. These include a tendency to “split” rather than “lump” animal groups. Also, all “clean” and all flying creatures—not just “clean” ones—were multiplied by fourteen instead of seven animals.

What Are Splitting and Lumping?

Estimating the number of animals on the ark depends upon several factors. Near the top of that list is the decision to split or lump the animals that may or may not be related as a kind.

Coyotes, wolves, dingoes, and domestic dogs can generally interbreed. Thus, they can be lumped into the same kind. So, Noah just needed two members of the dog kind on the ark.

On the other hand, there are approximately two dozen known families of bats, living and extinct. Based on anatomy and other features, many of these families probably belong to the same kind (e.g., if we used the cognitum criteria). In fact, it is possible that every bat belongs to the same kind. However, since breeding studies have not yet confirmed this idea, the Ark Encounter researchers split the bats into their various families. So instead of including as few as 14 bats on the ark, the team accounted for over 300 of them (14 from each family). In keeping with the worst-case approach to estimating the number of animals on the ark, the animals were split into separate kinds whenever the data was insufficient to support lumping them into a single kind.

Why Fourteen Instead of Seven?

Some Bible translations indicate that Noah was to bring seven of each flying creature and clean animal. Yet other Bible translations state that seven pairs of these creatures were on the ark.

Seven of Each Kind Seven Pairs of Each Kind
KJV*
NKJV
NASB*
NET*
NIV (1984)*
NLT
ESV*
HCSB
NRSV
NIV (2011)
* Asterisks indicate that a textual note appears in these Bibles that mentions the possibility of the other view.

The Hebrew text literally reads, “seven seven—a male and his female” (Genesis 7:2). Does this unique phrasing mean seven or fourteen?

In favor of the “seven” view is that Genesis 8:20 states that Noah sacrificed clean animals and birds after the flood. While it doesn’t say that Noah sacrificed just one animal of each clean kind, those who hold to the “seven” view could point to the common “six and one” pattern seen in the Old Testament. For example, God created the world in six days and rested for one (Genesis 1; Exodus 20:11). Perhaps six of each clean animal were for man’s use, and one was dedicated to the Lord.

In favor of the “seven pairs” view is the text’s mention that there would be a male and “his female” for the clean animals. If an odd number was brought to Noah, then plenty of animals did not have a mate. Furthermore, the Hebrew text does not use similar wording with the unclean animals in verse two. That is, readers can know that one pair of unclean animals was in view, but the text does not say “two two, a male and his female.” It just has the word for two.

Since Hebrew language scholars do not agree about this issue, it seems wise to be tentative about which view is accurate. Since a worst-case approach is being used regarding the animals, these calculations are based on the “seven pairs” position.

What Is Meant by a “Worst-Case Scenario?”

The Ark Encounter depicts a worst-case approach when estimating the number of animal kinds. Some people believe Noah brought two of every unclean animal and seven of every clean animal. The text seems to indicate that Noah cared for more animals than this (Genesis 7:2–3), particularly when it comes to the clean animals and flying creatures. The Lord may have sent seven pairs of the clean animals and seven pairs of all the flying creatures (not just the clean varieties).

Although this worst-case approach more than doubles the total estimated number of animals on the ark, this model shows that even a high-end estimate of total animals would have fit on board. Obviously, if the Lord sent just seven of each clean animal and seven of just the clean flying creatures, the ark would have had plenty of space to accommodate this lower total.

How Big Were the Ark Animals?

People often wonder how all the animals could have fit in the ark, particularly when considering the massive dinosaurs. We see so many illustrations of large creatures packed tightly into a little boat. But this image is inaccurate. Noah’s ark was much larger than it is usually depicted, and many of the animals were probably smaller than shown in popular pictures.

NOAH’S ARK WAS MUCH LARGER THAN IT IS USUALLY DEPICTED, AND MANY OF THE ANIMALS WERE PROBABLY SMALLER THAN SHOWN IN POPULAR PICTURES.

It makes more sense to think that God would have sent to Noah juveniles or smaller varieties within the same kind. Consider the following advantages of bringing juveniles or smaller versions of a creature:

  1. They take up less space.
  2. They eat less.
  3. They create less waste.
  4. They are often easier to manage.
  5. They are generally more resilient.
  6. In the case of juveniles, they would have more time to reproduce after the flood.

Indeed, even when the giant dinosaurs and elephant-sized creatures are factored in, the ark animals were probably much smaller than is frequently assumed. According to Ark Encounter estimates, it is projected only 15 percent of ark animals would have achieved an average adult mass over 22 pounds (10 kg). This means that the vast majority of ark animals were smaller than a beagle, with most of those being much smaller. Starting with a mass category of 0.035–0.35 oz. (1–10 g), the animal groups were distributed into eight logarithmically increasing size classes. Amazingly, the size range with the highest projected number of ark animals was 0.35–3.5 oz. (10–100 g).

How Many Animal Kinds and Individuals Were on the Ark?

Based on initial projections, the Ark Encounter team estimates that there were around 1,400 animal kinds on the ark. It is anticipated that future research may reduce that number even further.

The Ark Encounter team projects that there were fewer than 7,000 animals on board the ark. The wide discrepancy between the number of ark kinds and individuals is due to the relatively large number of flying and “clean” kinds—each estimated at 14 animals apiece.

Extinct Groups Kinds (est.) Per Kind Total Animals (est.)
Amphibians 54 2 108
Reptiles 219 Flying: 24 x 14 = 336
Flightless: 195 x 2 = 390
726
Non-Mammalian Synapsids 78 2 156
Mammals 332 Clean/Flying: 15 x 14 = 210
Unclean: 317 x 2 = 634
844
Birds 89 Flying: 69 x 14 = 966
Flightless: 20 x 2 = 40
1,006
Living Groups Kinds (est.) Per Kind Total Animals (est.)
Amphibians 194 2 388
Reptiles 101 2 202
Mammals 136 Clean/Flying: 31 x 14 = 434
Unclean: 105 x 2 = 210
644
Birds 195 Flying: 190 x 14 = 2,660
Flightless: 5 x 2 = 10
2,670
Total 1,398 6,744

Conclusion

It is worth noting that the numbers included here are only initial estimates drawn from currently available information. On the other hand, a hypothetical 3D-digital ark created by the Ark Encounter design team, complete with all enclosures, interior structural elements, food, and water storage, showed that everything fit extremely well with little space left over.

JUST AS NOAH TRUSTED GOD CONCERNING UNSEEN THINGS, SO TOO SHOULD WE TRUST GOD IN THE THINGS WE CANNOT WITNESS.

In the end, the most important reason to believe that all the right animals fit has nothing to do with spreadsheets and 3D models—as helpful as they can sometimes be. We find this reason in Hebrews 11:7, where the writer says, “By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” Just as Noah trusted God concerning unseen things, so too should we trust God in the things we cannot witness. Since God provided both the ark specifications and the creatures sustained within the vessel (Genesis 6:20), we can know just as surely as Noah that they all fit and were spared the watery judgment.

Adapted, with permission, from Tim Chaffey and Laura Welch, Inside Noah’s Ark: Why It Worked (Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books, 2016), chapter 3.

Footnotes

  1. See Inside Noah’s Ark: Why It Worked, ed. Laura Welch (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2016).
  2. IUCN 2014. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2014.2. . Downloaded on 9 November 2016.
  3. See the following articles:
  4. These last two methods are admittedly subjective and play off the assumption of common design indicating common ancestry within a kind. Even though these methods are utilized, the results are seen as highly tentative since they have proven inaccurate in certain instances. But due to the limited amount of hybridization data, these are presently our best alternatives.

RZIM @ UC Berkeley: Clarity in a Culture of Confusion

RZIM’s Abdu Murray & Nathan Betts @ UC Berkeley

Hey TD!

Earlier this week, RZIM joined with the Veritas Forum to hold various open forums on pertinent issues of our day on the campus of UC Berkeley.  One of the forums was on Clarity in a Culture of Confusion and was led by Abdu Murray, who was then joined by Nathan Betts during the Q&A.

Abdu gives a compelling talk, which was followed by Q&A. I found the questions to be quite thoughtful and relevant, and thought you would get a lot out of it.

Here’s the legend of questions:

– In the multi-cultural metropolis that is the Bay Area and UC Berkeley, which is a microcosm of that, how do you balance a desire and celebration of diversity with the exclusive nature of truth? – 56:35

– Living in such a secular society, how do we effectively engage with non-Christians in a way that isn’t a debate, but more of a loving conversation? – 1:06.22

– We stand for great diversity on this campus and love it that this campus accepts all kinds of people, from every walk of life.  Why is it that challenging questions like, What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be male or female? What does it mean to be a good citizen?, isn’t valid in light of an exclusive truth? Is there are value to asking questions that only seem to have fuzzy answers that don’t exactly fit with the worldview you’re positing?   – 1:12.26

– How do you reconcile conflicting viewpoints between science and religion? What makes religion more true than modern science? – 1:25.03

– Are there limitations to Christian truth? Are truth and answers the same thing, and if so, does the Christian worldview offer an answer to every question in modern society? – 1:29.28

– Does the Christian worldview offer a resolution to the human condition? – mental disorders/gender dysphoria/disease – is the Christian worldview actually a resolution for those issues? – 1:38.30

– You’ve argued compellingly that truth is important, but it doesn’t seem it will help us very much unless we can access truth.  There are a lot of impediments to doing that – we’re bound inside human minds and cultures with an overload of information. Please speak to that. – 1:45.16

Video – Ask Anything Tour @ UCLA

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TD in front of UCLA’s beautiful new Luskin Conference Center

Hey TD!

We had a wonderful time at UCLA two weekends ago with Ligonier Ministries, as we got to watch Al Mohler answer tough questions from a live public audience during Ligonier’s Ask Anything Tour on Friday night; and then we were taught by Mohler, Burk Parsons, and Stephen Nichols during Ligonier’s Truth and Consequences training on Saturday.  It was a faith building weekend that challenged us to work on our skill set in representing Christ better in the public square.

Here is the video of Friday night’s Ask Anything Tour, with a Table of Contents of questions below, so you can go to the question you’d like to hear:

2018 Ask Anything with Al Mohler @ UCLA – 3/2/18

27:30 Were there any big intellectual barriers to you coming to Christ?
30:00 The traditional answer to why evil exists is that God wants to demonstrate His character against the backdrop of evil. Did God have to send billions of people to hell to demonstrate His goodness to a few?
36:35 What is the biblical worldview on transgender-ism and gender identity ?
47:20 Does theistic evolution contradict the Bible?
53:00 How should Christians approach government? Are we to be passive, if submissive?
1:00:45 Why is Christianity right and the rest of the 2,999 wrong?
1:07:07 Do you agree with the apostle Paul when he describes same-sex attraction as, “degrading passions, un-natural affections, abominable, perversed, indecent and depraved”?
1:11:17 Should I take medication for depression, should I see a physician for it, and what should I advise my friends who struggle with this? How can I approach this biblically?
1:17:47 Given that the Bible holds that human life begins at conception, what are the ethics of conducting research with established human embryonic stem cell lines? These are many generations removed from initial destruction, and who bears culpability in such research?
1:25:10 How do you read so much and retain information effectively?
1:30:20 When would you recommend someone for seminary, and when is one ready for seminary?
1:36:12 How do you explain Christian denominations? Should there be and is there a correct one? Starting at
1:45:00, Mohler goes into short(ish) answers for time.
1:45:35 How can God be loving and send people to hell? Different than the first, if the system is inherently wrong, can we believe in God?
1:47:23 My wife and I are seeing many of our friends foregoing marriage, and children. Is this biblically wrong and do you think there will be consequences?
1:50:05 How can you assert the divinity of the Bible given the history that precedes the publication of it?
1:53:21 What’s a biblical response to systemic racism, especially in light of scripture being used to validate American slavery?
1:57:40 In light of recent events, while embracing the sovereignty of God and the free will of humanity, what good do the “thoughts and prayers” of Christians amidst chaos and violence offer?

Happy Reformation Day! – The Reformation 500 Celebration

Reformation 500 Celebration

Happy Reformation Day, TD!

If you’re asking, “Reformation? Reformation Day? What?,” then this post is for you.  500 years ago today, October 31, 1517, Martin Luther posted his now famed 95 Theses that sparked the flame that spread throughout Europe and eventually … the world.

All over the world today, there have been celebrations, tributes, TV programs, articles written, video productions broadcast, and more to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation.  We invite you to watch a re-broadcast of Ligonier Ministries’ Reformation 500 Celebration to not only get a better theological and historical perspective of the Reformation, why God ordained it, it’s impact and need today, but also for needed reformation in our own lives.

In this celebration, you’ll get an animated history of the life of Martin Luther, new choral music written for the church (by RC Sproul and Jeff Lippencott), as well as terrific mini- messages (18 mins) addressing essential Reformation issues for our lives and our times.

Click above for the entire celebration or click below to watch the specific messages.  I encourage you to honor the Lord and what He did in the Reformation by watching at least one of the following videos. – Arthur

 

An Inspiring Q & A From One of the Greats!

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Hey TD,

Life is short.  It’s vital for us all to appreciate and treasure those who have made a big impact in our lives while they are still with us.  That’s exactly what I did at last month’s Los Angeles Ligonier conference as Dr. RC Sproul came to us via live video feed from Ligonier’s headquarters in Florida.

RC is not only one of America’s leading theologians, he’s also been a hero, mentor, teacher, and friend; someone I’ve looked up to a lot over the last few decades. Due to his health, RC is no longer able to travel significant distances.  Now 78, his health has been up and down over the last decade and has lived the last several years connected to an oxygen tank.  Though we’ve communicated via snail mail and on the phone, I haven’t personally seen RC in a couple of years. His daughter, Sherrie, would give us updates periodically and let us know he was doing well, but having seen him not doing so well in recent years, I wondered how well.

So, when he did a Q and A session at the conference, taking on live questions from the audience, I was nervous for him inside, praying that he would be able to keep up.  And what I saw was sheer joy to me, putting a smile in my heart and face, and leaving me amazed at how he could still answer questions coming from all over the place, and do so with such skill, precision, wit, and winsomeness.  I was blown away.  In my heart, I was yelling, “Way to go, RC!”

Thankfully, Ligonier posted that Q and A online.  Please watch and be edified in your faith. It’s beautiful (and includes a funny impromptu interchange with John MacArthur) – Arthur

Questions:

(0:20) In Deuteronomy 23, it states that a Moabite shall not enter the assembly of God. How did David, the descendent of a Moabite, enter the tabernacle?
(1:55) As a new student minister, how can I respectfully respond to people in the church who encourage me to entertain and dumb down spiritual things for my students?
(3:20) If Jesus and Paul used harsh words against their opponents in Scripture, does that give us permission to do the same today?
(5:50) Is it true that you got a hole in one recently?
(6:50) Since the Manhattan Declaration, has there been a change of opinion or a clearer understanding from the evangelical community?
(8:16) How can the Lord regret something, if He knows everything?
(10:45) What is double predestination?
(13:49) Is it necessary for pastors to challenge their congregations to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior?
(16:45) How would you respond to the accusation that you teach the Bible is part of the Trinity?
(20:03) Is separation in marriage permitted in Scripture and if it is, under what conditions?
(22:26) Would emotional and/or physical abuse merit a separation?
(23:24) Given the Bible commands us to obey authority, how should we view the American Revolution?
(25:34) How should we understand generational curses in the Bible?
(27:30) Do you have any concerns about the spiritual formation movement?
(28:47) Since everyone is unable to obey the greatest commandment, are we always actively living in a state of sin?
(30:05) Why did God create sin and Satan?
(32:26) What do success and failure look like in the eyes of Jesus?
(33:57) 1 Corinthians 15:22, why is the first Adam’s condemnation universal and the second Adam’s justification limited?
(36:40) What is your view of the altar call?

Note: Answers given during Questions and Answers sessions reflect the views of the individual speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dr. R.C. Sproul and Ligonier Ministries. Here is our Statement of Faith: http://www.ligonier.org/about/who-we-…

Killer Q & A

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Hey TD!

Those who went to the Ligonier conference last week were treated to a wonderfully rich time of teaching, theology, and a deeper knowledge of the God of the Bible.  This was the Upward Prong of our 3-pronged approach to the Christian life.

One particular treat were the Q & A sessions – one with Dr. RC Sproul and one with the rest of the speakers.  There is always lots of candor and humor that accompany the insight and truth shared.

Below is a Q & A session from LIgonier’s National Conference a couple of months ago with Dr. RC Sproul, Dr. John MacArthur, Dr. Albert Mohler, and Dr. Steven Lawson. Below is the list of questions discussed:

Questions:

1. Dr. MacArthur, can you tell us about the Shepherds Conference? (1:09)
2. How do you explain the term “Reformed” to a someone unfamiliar to Reformed teaching? (2:34)
3. Is our still heart deceitfully wicked after we are born again? (4:47)
4. How should I share the gospel when it could cost me my job? (7:08)
5. Is it biblical to say God “loves you” to believers and nonbelievers alike? (9:32)
6. What does it mean when we confess that Jesus has a reasonable soul? (13:05)
7. Dr. MacArthur, you spoke at 2016 Shepherds Conference about clergy malpractice. What did you mean by that? (17:08)
8. How can I best prepare students to live their faith out in public schools? (19:17)
9. How do I counsel a Reformed mother who is married to a Roman Catholic? (22:25)
10. With the rise of seeker-sensitive churches, how do we understand biblically ‘seeking’ God? (25:02)
11. How do you define a false teacher? How much error is needed before they are considered false? (32:23)
12. How is the current cultural climate forcing the “mushy middle” out of the church? (35:55)
13. Giving the failure of ecumenical movements, how do you promote unity in doctrine? (37:59)

Note: Answers given during Panel Discussions reflect the views of the individual speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Dr. R.C. Sproul and Ligonier Ministries.

Enjoy!